Art vs. Science: Cluefinders

No matter how much I despise “The Da Vinci Code,” I can help but admit that this NY Times article is pretty much one of the primary definitions of ‘awesome’.

Hunting for Lost Art

A UCSD Engineer who has spent a majority of his career using science to recover lost artworks, has embarked on a Dan-brownian adventure (minus French lady and self-mutilating monk) in the Hall of 500 in Florence, Italy. Apparently, when he was there ages ago with a Leonardo Da Vinci Scholar, the two came across a small flag in one of the Medici-era murals on the walls that had a cryptic message: “Seek and you shall find”, in Latin no less. (CMCM?)

The wall is fabled to be the site of one of Da Vinci’s greatest masterworks-a battle scene 3x the size of the last supper, which was covered by the Medici muralist in the 1500s. But how do we know for sure without destroying the outer painting?The answer is hilariously the same answer that gave rise to the development modern physics and quantum mechanics: just shoot a beam of particles at it, dagnabbit!

And that is exactly what they are going to do— shoot a bean of neutrons at the painting and basically observe how they bounce back in order to determine what materials (the sulfur of Leonardo’s paint??) lie beneath the surface.

Now if only we could shoot particles at Dan Brown.


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